This is a topic that can go whichever way the wind blows...depending on what people place value on in terms of their choice of law school. I attend a third tier law school, and I had the choice to attend a higher ranked school. But rankings and/or prestige was not the top of list of priorities, rather I based my decision on affordability (I got scholarships), student's satisfaction, faculty support, reputation, and bar passage rates.
Even though my school is in the third tier, it wonderful and expansive placement of graduates beyond the state and region (most lower ranked schools are regional in the sense of job opportunities and usually do not extend outside the state), and bar passage rates are very strong and are on the rise. This may even be good for those that are looking to go into practice for themselves or running for office if they attend a school in the state they wish to practice. The familiarity of the state's school may be home field advantage. But you cannot underestimate the power of a degree from a Top law school as well for those same endeavors, they may hold more weight, but it does not effectually make the 3rd tier JD holder weightless. Experience and skills you acquire after law school is really what sets you apart, not which school you attended, because eventually it becomes irrelevant (told to me by a former supreme court judge in GA).
Many people get caught up in the rankings so much because they feel like the education at higher ranked law schools are substantially better (or they insecure). This is def. not always true, the advantage of a JD from a top tier school means more (or easier) opportunities for a acquiring a job and the prestige. There are many comparable lower tier schools that can match or beat the bar passage rates of higher ranked schools or the curriculum are just as challenging, or even more (some tier 4 have a very harsh grading curve). To me there is no disadvantage of attending a lower ranked school as long as they meet your needs and their bar passage rates are strong, because that is what matters in the end. But again, that is very subjective and others may state that going to a lower ranked school is a waste of time and money. But those are also individuals that may have never attended a lower ranked school so their opinion may be unjustified (I see that a lot on these boards where people bash lower tiered schools but never attended one, but just going off the presumption that they are inferior since they are not ranked).
I do not know what I plan to do when I graduate, but I imagine that I would work for a law firm. And based on my school’s placement success, I feel like I would have a great job upon graduation (provided that the economy is booming by 2012 lol). So, do not get caught up in lower tier= inferior because that is simply not true. Determine what your must haves are for your potential law school and make an informed decision based on that, not on rankings. : )